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After leading VisionSpring, a nonprofit that helps bring glasses to people who make less than $4 a day, Neil Blumenthal co-founded Warby Parker, a social enterprise that offers high-end glasses at a low price point, and donates a pair for every pair sold. This interview with Neil is an excerpt from Kern and Burn: Conversations With Design Entrepreneurs, a book that features candid conversations with 30 leading designers who have founded startups, channeled personal passions into self-made careers and taken risks to do what they love.

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As the bicycle resurged as a major source of transportation in the U.S., Bryan Papé saw a sustainable business opportunity. Through his company, MiiR, he helped design a sleek but practical bike and launched a buy one get one program—for every bike purchased, one is given to underserved communities in the U.S. or Africa.

MiiR linked up with World Bicycle Relief in Africa and the Boise Bicycle Project in his hometown of Boise, Idaho to bring bikes to those who can’t afford them.

He founded MiiR in 2010 as a Seattle company with functional products with tangible social impact. The company launched with earth-friendly reusable water bottles, then he partnered with the nonprofit One Day’s Wages to donate a dollar of each sale to bring clean water to areas in Africa.

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A Better BOGO: Are Books a More Effective Charity Than Shoes? Another BOGO Biz, Better World Books has a Plan to Donate to Africa

Better World Books is linking used book sales to charity causes with the buy one, give one model.


From the start, Xavier Helgesen built his used book dealership on the idea that helping the world helps profit. That's why he named it Better World Books. Now, in addition to donating a portion of revenue to literacy charities, his company is joining the buy-one-give-one trend pioneered by hip shoe company TOMS: for every book purchased on Better World's website, the company will donate a book to a nonprofit partner.

"We’ve shown—and continue to show—just how successful a company can be when it leverages environmental and social impact,” Helgesen said.

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